I love nothing more than to hear people’s stories from their childhood, looking through their photos and watching their faces as they remember back to when they were young, happy and carefree.
I listen intently and laugh along with them, but the when it’s my turn to share a story with them, I feel like the party pooper. My childhood was far from happy. I could tell you all about it but, in all honesty, I don’t want to sound like I’m out to start a pity party and lately, I’ve found myself really battling with the demons of my childhood so bringing it all up again isn’t going to get me anywhere other than crying into a tissue and trying to stop the snot from my nose running into my mouth. (Snot isn’t as tasty as cake so who wants that?)
The most important thing for me, is to make sure my daughter and Paul’s children have the happiest of childhoods and ensure they never have to be the party pooper with no recollection of unhappy memories, and instead, make sure they have plenty of tales to tell.
This is where the difficult part comes in. We live in a world where social media and technology play a huge part in our lives. As much as I couldn’t live without my phone, I do often find myself wanting to apply for Big Brother purely for a couple of months temptation free. I say a couple of months, I’d be the first to be evicted for being too opinionated and shit at cooking.
We often find ourselves planning a day out with the kids but we can’t go anywhere without making sure iPads and iPhones aren’t on full charge. Throughout the day, we look at the kids and they’re snap chatting their friends or looking through Facebook. I too, am guilty of this. It’s becoming more and more frustrating lately because I’m finding myself saying “put your phone away, it’s family time” but then five minutes later, my phone is out and I’m taking photos. Now we’ve brought a camera, it’s much easier to capture the moments without sneaking in a quick scroll through Instagram and ending up looking through my cousins-best friends-milkmans account.
Evenings are just as bad, the kids are always in their own bedrooms hidden away, Paul is watching football and I’m sat scrolling through Instagram yet again (I’m addicted, send help) . How can we make memories when we are all in separate rooms? We’ve tried to set family time rules before but it always ends up with George stressing out because he’s missing Call The Midwife, Lyla getting upset because she wants her daily splash in the bath and Nev having a teenage grunt because she wants to be a drag Queen and is missing one vital ingredient. As soon as the new family rules were set, we’d given in and opted for the peaceful life.
I worry so often about whether the children have enough happy memories to share, I want them to tell their children how much fun they had with their parents and I want them to come to us later in life and say “we had amazing childhoods didn’t we?”
I’d love to say we are able to wipe our arses with fifty pound notes but we can’t, every penny we earn is ploughed into bills, our house and the kids, we just can’t afford massively expensive trips out to theme parks each weekend and fancy holidays. So it’s important that when we do go out, our trips are filled with fun and laughter. A simple walk can create so many happy memories and I’m realising now that you don’t need to spend the money to have good days out, but what you do need to do, is leave the phones and iPads alone.
Last night, Lyla taught me something really important. Family time is 100% needed. All she wanted last night was to sit together and play a card game but it was only Daddy that was happy to play, the rest of us were “busy”. Her little face was crushed and I felt awful that I’d put my phone before her, so we all sat around the table playing UNO, laughing, joking and enjoying each other. It was loud and boisterous but most importantly, it was fun. As soon as the game was over, everyone left the table and Lyla burst into tears, she’d had so much fun altogether that she didn’t want it to end but was worried to ask for another game in case we said no. But we didn’t. We sat around the table and played another round. The smile on her face made me melt, she loved being with us all and we all felt the same way. Admittedly, my phone wasn’t quite away as I couldn’t resist sharing a little video or three of the chaos that is, my family.
We’ve now created a rule. Each Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 6pm and 8.30pm, all of us must leave our devices in another room and all be in the room together. Whether it’s sitting around the dining table playing a game of UNO or cuddled up on the sofa watching The Lion King, we do it all together and without the sound of a sodding text message in earshot. This time, it’s not for negotiation, Call The Midwife can wait, the bath can be had early and the teenager? Well, she’s just going to have to accept that she doesn’t have a cock and get over it. It shouldn’t take tears from a little 8 year old to being it home that we aren’t making enough time together but it did and it’s pretty shameful on our part as parents that we’ve not endorsed the rules sooner. They may not thank us right away, but in a few years, they’ll appreciate that we made that decision. I hope. I’m really going to try my hardest to leave my phone at home more now, to make the most of each second of the children being young and not miss a second because I’ve become to engrossed in the Jeremy Kyles of Facebook having another public domestic (just have a row in private would you?)
I seriously hope when our kids are older they remember their childhoods with fondness and know that we did everything we could to make them happy. There’s nothing worse than being an adult and realising that the only time you were really happy, was the day you left home for good and moved away.
Enjoy your children, set the rules and do what you need to do to make sure the memories are more than a video clip on you tube.Muddy knees and splashing in puddles will never grow old even when you kids do.
Make life fun, make your children’s childhood one they deserve.